Until Apple’s marquee event in the fall (there is also a “Spring Loaded” Apple event on April 20), the name of the upcoming iPhone family is anyone’s guess. Here at CNET, we’ve been going with iPhone 13 for the sake of continuity, but a recent wave of reports suggest that iPhone 13 may not be Apple’s moniker of choice.
We don’t yet know how the iPhone 13 Pro Max (or whatever it ends up being called) will compare to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, pictured here.
Out of the possible names, iPhone 12S is rumored to be the front-runner for this year’s series. Not iPhone 13. A January Bloomberg article citing Apple engineers says only minor upgrades are planned for the upcoming lineup, which will likely be an “S” version of the iPhone 12. Frequent leaker Jon Prosser pointed toward an iPhone 12S, too. We’ve seen Apple use this naming scheme in the past with 2015’s iPhone 6S , which superseded 2014’s iPhone 6 , and again with 2018’s iPhone XS , a follow-up to 2017’s iPhone X.
But if other reports are accurate, there won’t be an iPhone 13 hitting shelves next year either: Apple is expected to leapfrog to an iPhone 14 in 2022, excluding “iPhone 13” from its nomenclature altogether. Here’s why.
The name iPhone 13 can be bad for optics
It’s no secret that the number 13’s association with bad luck has real-world responses. Just ask the property developers who omit the 13th floor from their high-rises, the droves of couples who steer clear of marrying on the 13th or the psychologists who treat patients for triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13.
Apple knows this less-than-favorable perception could scare customers away from buying an iPhone 13. In the past, Apple hasn’t shied away from branding its products with the number 13, having released the A13 Bionic chipset and the iOS 13 software update, for instance. This is a higher-stakes branding exercise, however, as we’re talking about a consumer product as opposed to a component or software. Plus the iPhone is Apple’s marquee product, responsible for generating nearly 50% of Apple’s…